Black 'N Blue-Hell Yeah
Whatever happened to Black 'N Blue? Formed in the early eighties under the name Movie Star this Portland, Oregon band would make the move to Los Angeles in 1982. Their first recorded appearance (to my knowledge) would be on the 1984 pressing of the classic Metal Massacre compilation. That album of course featured some quite a few big names like Metallica and Ratt as well as cult bands like Bitch and Malice. Their 1984 s/t debut featured the hit "Hold On To 18" as well as a cover of the Sweet track "Action" and re-recorded version of their Metal Massacre track "Chains Around Heaven". The album featured classic American hard rock and they seemed destined to be the next big thing. They really should have been at the top of the pile looking down on bands like Ratt, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue. They had everything needed to succeed and be "King Of The Mountain". 1985's Without Love album (the follow up to their s/t album) was an overproduced, radio-friendly pop metal piece that quickly turned off core fans and found Black 'N Blue getting the "just another glam metal band" tag. While I still am rather fond of their debut album I lost interest in them after that. They went the route of trying to play the same sort of nonsense that bands like Night Ranger were shooting for and it killed their credibility. I haven't followed the band as I said although I do know lead singer Jaime St. James later ended up in Warrant while guitarist Tommy Thayer plays lead guitar for Kiss. With a line-up now featuring Jaime St. James, Shawn Sonnenschein on guitars, Jeff "Woop" Warner on guitars,keyboards, Patrick Young on bass and finally Pete Holmes on drums the band are set to release Hell Yeah a few months from now. Is it a return to form for the band or is it just another attempt from a has-been band trying desperately to recapture their lost glory? More of the latter I'm afraid. First off as many of us saw with his time in Warrant Jamie St. Jones isn't the same vocalist he was back in 1984. Let's just say he has gotten a little rough around the edges with age. And while the band sounds fine no one really stands out. The same goes for the actual songs. Well, "Target" stood out but that was only because it had a riff very similar to AC/DC's "Moneytalks". I do understand that Hell Yeah was started back in 2003 and just recently got wrapped up. With all that time though why does the album feel rushed? It feels like they just threw together a bunch of songs picked from here, there and everywhere. "Monkey" which starts off the album shows some promise and had me hoping this might not be too bad. "Hail Hail" though (track number three) is just kind of lame. "Fools Bleed" is a half hearted attempt at a ballad. With another singer it could work. I just didn't buy it though with Jamie at the helm. "C'mon" is decent enough hard rock (again reminding me of AC/DC with a bit of Def Leppard thrown in?) but feels a bit unfinished. "Jaime's Got A Beer" is a throw-away joke song. I wasn't laughing though. I missed the joke part I guessed. "Angry Drunk Son of a Bitch" and "So Long" were decent enough. Certainly not enough to make me want to go check out the rest of their catalog to see what I missed. "Candy" must have been written while Jamie St. James was in Warrant. Boy it brought the "Down Boys" to mind. The rest of the album? More of the same before. Well, there is a hidden track that should have stayed hidden. Fact is there are a lot of bands (hard rock and glam) who are still putting out good (if not great) albums. Or at least decent releases if you look at bands like Motley Crue. Hell Yeah doesn't fit into any of those categories. This just seems like an odd and ends release and not a proper album. Sorry I wanted this to be a come back album for these guys. Instead maybe they should just go back.